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March 4, 2012 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

Things You Already Know But Just Need to Be Told


I have been thinking about Tommy Wiseau a lot recently. In case you don’t know, he’s the guy who wrote, directed, produced and starred in The Room. It’s terrible. The Room, that is. It is a badly written, mis-shapen, offensive in as many ways as you could possibly think of, hate-filled lump of a film. It’s the kind of bad that can only have attracted a cult audience.

Screenings sell out, dubstep remixes abound on YouTube. People will verbally spar over just how much they hate it. Is the point when one of the characters reveals they have breast cancer that is never referred to again the film’s nadir? Or is it when Wiseau memetically yells that “you’re tearing me APAAAAAAAAAHT”?

It would be easy to assume from the culture around The Room that it had always been an intentional comedy. It is so bad, so appalling that it feels like it has to be at least partially deliberate. But, when you look at it and Wiseau for long and hard enough it becomes readily apparent that was never the case.

The Room is not like Troll 2 or Plan 9 from Outer Space. In those cases, the filmmakers, at best, didn’t care and wanted their work to have a sense of humour about itself. Wiseau wanted to make a masterpiece. He struggled for years on his own to raise the several million dollars to make the film.

There is an interesting transition to watch over the years in the interviews with the man. At first, he is clearly baffled by the fact that people are laughing at his film but he’s going along with it because, well, a ticket sold is a ticket sold. Then you see him despair—he spent a good chunk of his life trying to tell that story (as woefully misjudged and technically incompetent as it is) and not only is it a nexus of ridicule, that is the only thing it is known for. And then he changes his tune. It was always meant to be funny, he claims. He says he always wanted to make a comedy. He began to play the role that the mass hatred of his work has cast of him. He didn’t just give up, he became a joke of himself.

And my heart kinda breaks for him.

Now, this isn’t a Rebecca Black level of obscene, horrible, unwarranted bullying by any means, but just imagine what it would be like to be him. To have something you had worked so hard on, something you had put so much of yourself in, something you were really trying to say something with, ripped apart on such a massive and public level without remorse that your only choice was to reject that you had ever aspired for it to be anything. Wiseau is probably a monster, but we all kind of are.

We are all so insecure about our own work, life and value that we are quick to attack any deficiencies we find in other people as a defense. That’s why 90 per cent of internet discourse is people telling each other that they are wrong due to their spelling. That’s why you’ll always find one thing over which to totally write off a person who’s disagreed with you. It might be how they dress, how they vote, the music they like, one thing they said one time—you’ll find a reason.

We have to own our insecurity and the first step towards that is recognising that the failure of others is not a cause of joy. We just have to get over the fact that most people are wrong most of the time. You fail. You fuck up. You mis-step and fumble. People need to be allowed to not be perfect without fear of mass hate. We are all more similar that we think and while you already know that you should put yourself in other people’s shoes, that doesn’t mean you don’t still need to be told to.

All of that said, The Room is still fucking hilarious.


About the Author ()

Uther was one of the two arts editors in 2009. He was the horoscopier and theatre writer in 2010. Alongside Elle Hunt, Uther was coeditor in 2011.

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